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Founder's College

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By Andy from The Charlotte Capitalist ™,cross-posted by MetaBlog

Some familiar names in this story from heraldsun.com: Founders College has submitted an application projecting a fall 2007 start and an enrollment of 500, said Michelle Howard-Vital, associate vice president of academic affairs for UNC General Administration. Eric Daniels of Durham filed the request, Howard-Vital said. She identified Daniels as a faculty member at Duke University.

... ... read more here.

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It would be interesting to see how this plan develops.

The articles says... "As proposed, Founders College would offer an associate of arts degree and a bachelor of arts in liberal arts."

It would be really cool to have a college like this established, and even cooler is, some day, it branched out into areas like Economics, Business Administration and then on to other fields.

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  • 1 month later...

There's a new article about "Founder's College".

At one point, the article quotes Gary Hull as saying something about an idea "that fell by the wayside", but I cannot figure out -- from the article -- what exactly he means.

(In anticipation of the question of whether ARI is sponsoring it in some way: at a "State of ARI" lecture Yaron Brook was asked about this plan and he said that he knew about it through the newspapers, same as everyone else.)

Edited by softwareNerd
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In the spirit of spreading unsubstantiated rumors, this very likely to be a venture by John Allison of BB&T.

Actually it is a BB&T sponsored venture. They shopped it around to a few colleges/communities and it was actually turned down at one college becuase BB&T wanted to say what the curriculum was.

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At OCON, (if I remember correctly) Dr. Brook and John Allison were both sitting at the table when somebody asked about Founders College. Dr. Brook responded that ARI had nothing to do with it and I don't recall John Allison saying anything about it. If Founders was indeed officially backed by BB&T, I would have expected him to at least comment. Of course, if BB&T was backing the project it would make sense, given their extensive involvement in academia.

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There's an article at the Herald-Sun and an article at Inside Higher Education about the college. Ironically, BB&T has had some trouble as I mentioned giving the money away. So it looks like Hull and Daniels are going to do it on their own-ish. Well, that is Objectivists for you. ha ha.

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Here's a letter to the editor written by a non-Objectivist:

Congratulations to Gary Hull of Duke ("Classics college wooing Oxford," July 23 news story) for his plan to initiate a new higher educational institution focusing on the intellectual life.

Over a long lifetime, much of it in the educational mainstream, I have witnessed an accommodation of the academic curriculum to lightweight, non-challenging courses, catering to trivia for those only pursuing credit rather than thought.

This is not to suggest that I support Ayn Rand's philosophy of "rational self-interest" -- in truth, the opposite for me is at my philosophical core -- but presenting it as a point of discussion for the students of 2007 and beyond, possibly in nearby Oxford, is exciting.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Here's a new article about the college, saying that it has shifted its focus from North Carolina and Maine, and is now aiming for Virginia, where -- according to the article -- a government decision could come in two weeks. (Mapquest link to Lynch Station, VA)

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  • 3 weeks later...
An update from the Rule Of Reason blog: The college has crossed whatever regulatory hurdle they were facing. Now, they're allowed to solicit students. Hopefully, they will now publish more information about their plans, having no more need to be circumspect. (When faced by a government interrogator, one answers just what's asked and does not volunteer information that might be held against you.)
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  • 2 weeks later...
Founder's College now has a much-expanded web-site, with curriuculum, information about campus-life, a list of open teaching positions, and admission information. Evidently the folks behind the college had a lot of things planned out but were holding back until they got past the government hurdle. Edited by softwareNerd
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The facts:

ARI is not involved in Founders College.

John Allison is not involved in Founders College.

Eric Daniels is no longer involved in Founders College.

To my knowledge, no Objectivist intellectual other than Gary Hull is involved with Founders College -- or even supports the endeavor. If you wish to know some of the reasons why, I would look at these two posts by Noumenal Self on Founders College: one and two ... as well as the comments on this NoodleFood post.

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I spent some time going through the expanded web site and it looks good, even if one did not know that Gary Hull was involved.

However, if I were a student looking for a college to go to, I would need more than that to convince me to spend my time and money. (Strikes me that the location, while really cool, would imply less part-time work-opportunities to students.) I wonder what profile of student they will target in the first few years.

Edited by softwareNerd
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What about Stephen Speicher at THE FORUM?

I don't think I was precise enough in my wording. I was thinking of those who speak at OCON and campus clubs, write op-eds and articles, etc -- particularly academics in the humanities associated with ARI. Perhaps I'm misjudging Dr. Speicher. In any case, I don't wish to imply any kind of universal opinion on this matter. I've just heard lots of strong criticisms of the project but no substantial optimism thereabout from those I know in that group.

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ARI is not involved in Founders College.

John Allison is not involved in Founders College.

Eric Daniels is no longer involved in Founders College.

To borrow from Donald Rumsfeld, the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. This is currently a very risky business venture in its formative stages, and I would not expect ARI to get involved with it. I think their choice of professors will be a much better basis for judgment.

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After reading a lot of the discussion on this on those blogs and at the FORUM, I would summarize the points of criticism as follows:

1) This is not an Objectivist venture. While it might be a venture by an Objectivist, it is like any other Objectivist setting up a non-Objectivist business. So, it would be equivalent to an Objectivist setting up a business to (say) publish children's books, but just good books, not anything to do with Objectivism in particular. It does seem that some early plans might have involved a larger focus on Objectivism, which was subsequently dropped, just as an Objectivist who starts to think that he could have a Objectivist-oriented children's book firm might figure that he cannot do it and should focus on a more general audience.

2) It is impractical. The venture does seem extremely ambitious, perhaps unrealistic. Starting a college in the hills of Virginia and hoping to get students at $30,000 a year. No clearly articulated, detailed plans of how they are going to acheive their ends, etc.

I do not agree with the above two points, but it is my summary of what I have read from the posts by others. Have I missed a major category of criticism?

On these two points of criticism, I'd say: I agree with the facts of the first, but don't see it as criticism at all. On the second, I'd say (in my ignorance) I'd tend to agree but have insufficient knowledge, and it's not my problem to worry about their project; I just hope they've thought it through. I definitely wish them well.

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After reading a lot of the discussion on this on those blogs and at the FORUM, I would summarize the points of criticism as follows:

1) This is not an Objectivist venture. ...

2) It is impractical. ...

The first wouldn't be a criticism at all, whereas the second is stated too broadly and too weakly to capture the depth and range arguments offered against the project.

Just so folks know, I have little desire to argue more about Founders College than I already have in my own blog comments. I just wanted to clearify a few factual points, plus note some reasons for doubt about the viability and wisdom of the endeavor as discussed earlier in some detail.

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Founder's College isn't past the regulatory hurdles yet. As they mention on their web-site, the next hurdle is re-zoning. The local, Lynchburg, newspaper reports that "Many citizens showed up to the Campbell County Planning Commission public hearing Monday evening to oppose the idea of opening Founders College. ... About five citizens spoke opposing the college. ... ... Keith Hall lives near the proposed college site. He said opening the college would make the area more congested, ruining the peacefulness of the area."

I found this interesting: "The college’s plan also includes building faculty housing and turning part of the property into a retirement community with a golf course."

This makes the project sounds more interesting. A 1100 acre site with a retirement-community, golf course, and college suddenly sounds more viable than just a college with 100 students and 30 faculty in year 1.

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Fill the retirement community with retirees who have turned to Objectivist study in their newfound free time, and it sounds like quite a learning community indeed. Imagine a student having wise old neighbors with a lifetime of experience, all the free time in the world, and sincere interest in sharing his studies.

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I am re-posting this from another forum, because of the "Please Forward" leader.

PLEASE FORWARD THIS ANNOUNCEMENT TO INTERESTED PARTIES:

LOOKING FOR A FEW GOOD INDEPENDENT LEARNERS!

FOUNDERS COLLEGE http://founderscollege.com

WHEN: MONDAY, OCT. 9, 7-9 PM

WHERE: Historic Oakland Room

5430 Vantage Point Road

Columbia, MD 21044

PLEASE RSVP: [email protected]

Join PAT FARENGA of Holt Associates and two of the founders of FOUNDERS

COLLEGE for an intimate look at what this new college has to offer!

2007 GRADUATES ARE ESPECIALLY ENCOURAGE TO ATTEND. The first Founders class

will receive a 20% start-up discount good for four years!

PLEASE FORWARD THIS INFORMATION TO YOUR FRIENDS

From The Website:

Our mission

To revolutionize American higher education by providing independent thinkers

with a liberal arts education like no other. We believe that a superior

college education should be an integrated, hierarchical whole, with

content-rich courses that are logically designed to give you the ability to

think critically and communicate effectively. We provide students a

revolutionary, life-changing college experience that develops a lifelong

love of learning and the vital skills needed to excel in any profession.

How we are different

Founders is based on a revolutionary idea: A college education should be an

integrated, logical whole that trains your mind to think clearly and

incisively. The experience should inspire in you a lifelong passion for

knowledge. College should not be a hash of disconnected, propaganda-filled

courses that are lacking in meaningful content. Most of all, it should not

be boring; it should be intellectually challenging and thrilling. Our

revolutionary teaching methods and unique, structured curriculum produce a

learning experience like no other.

DIRECTIONS

From Baltimore:

I-95 South to Route 175 (Columbia). Follow Route 175 West for 5.3 miles.

Turn left at Vantage Point Road, follow for 3/10 mile. Turn right at the

OAKLAND sign.

-- or --

I-695 South to I-70 West. South on Route 29 to Route 175 West (exit 20b).

At 2nd stop light, turn left at Vantage Point Road, follow for 3/10 mile.

Turn right at the OAKLAND sign.

From Washington:

I-95 North to Route 175 (Columbia). Follow Route 175 West for 5.3 miles.

Turn left at Vantage Point Road and follow 3/10 mile; Turn right at the

OAKLAND sign.

-- or --

Capitol Beltway I-495 to Route 29 North (Columbia). Follow for 14 miles to

Route 175 West (Exit 20B - Columbia/Town CenterExit). Turn left at Vantage

Point Road (2nd stop light), follow for 3/10 mile. Turn right at the OAKLAND

sign.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Founder's College has hit a big bump in the road. The County Planning Commission has said voted unanimously against the project. There was a second project in that area, which was housing, which has been put on hold. Now, the matter goes to the Board of Supervisors, who will make a decision on Nov 5th. I'm not sure if they often override a unanimous decision by the County Planning Commission. I doubt they would do so often.

It’s a big impact,” said Patrick Tweedy, commissioner from Altavista. “This would change the rural character of that part of the county.”

The way these things work is odd. In many parts of the country, a developer will be given approval if he promises to do some work like road-widening etc. and sometimes the developer will pay a certain amount of cash, which the government will use (ostensibly) to do such infrastructural work. In Founder's case, the backers offered to pay $11 million, they then dropped that number to $2.5 million, and then again to $1.5 million. However, strange as it may seem, my reading of the news leads me to conclude that they were reducing their offer (called a "proffer") in the hope of having a better chance of getting approval. The local laws in the area do not allow for proffers, so it would have been a non-binding promise. From what I could tell, some opponents were using the large proffer as a way to argue against the college, in the vein of: it only makes sense if they pay $11 million, and they aren't bound to pay it. So, they lowered it, trying to argue that the "costs" to the area were not that large. Strange reasoning , and if someone understand the logic of zoning laws, I'd like to understand this aspect.

Anyhow, that's where things stand today: "We don't want no education".

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